March 27, 2011

Change Happens One Individual Action At A Time

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." - John Wooden

The social and environmental problems the world is faced with are seemingly overwhelming. But our problems accumulated by one individual action at a time. One drive to the store. One plastic bag, one act of discrimination, one flight at a time. The solutions will happen one action at a time, too.

Our individual choices have created an unequal, planetary toxic waste dump. They can just as easily create a global garden of sustainability and sharing. Whether this comes around by voluntary actions, legislation, or some combination of the two, it still all comes down to individual compliance to make it work.

The voluntary shift toward increased sustainability needs not be any more of a burden than making a painting, or writing a song. It may take a lot of work, and it may not be easy, but it is a glorious opportunity to create beneficial changes to the social and environmental landscape.

When enough people seize the opportunity, our cumulative decisions and actions create something great, something larger than the sum of the individual parts. Isolated behaviours develop into a movement, then the movement reaches a tipping point. This is when revolutions happen, when we change paradigms and discover new and better ways of living. But it starts with what we think and do. It starts with individual choices.

But first, baby steps. Research shows that individuals choosing to take small steps toward change initially are more likely to choose to take greater steps later. It may start with voting for the first time, buying a fair trade product, or eating one vegetable-based meal per week, but it could signal the beginning of an exciting, liberating lifestyle shift. And if we fall along the way? We will not scold, we will not judge. We will simply help each other back up.

Finding your own answers to "What can I do?" is empowering. Adopting small actions that positively affect social and environmental conditions can have profound impacts down the road, locally and globally. Many times a day each of us has the opportunity to choose actions that will help create a better world.

"What can you do? You can do a lot. You can support justice for all by speaking out loudly to your family, friends, community, politicians, and religious leaders. You can support foundations that do good work. You can volunteer for humanitarian organizations. You can vote regressive politicians out of office. You can do many things to move the world toward greater harmony..."        - Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish

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